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John Bellany, b.1942

Self Portrait

John Bellany grew up in the seaside town of Port Seton, and the sea and the special light effects of a seaside environment affected all of his work. So too did Bellany’s experience of life in a small provincial community with a powerful but claustrophobic religious culture. His painting is strongly autobiographical and narrative with strong, though often symbolic references to the forces that dominated his life. The adoption of the puffin as an alter ego in ‘Self Portrait’ is perfectly in keeping with his search for archetypes that link his personal history with more universal human stories.The use of the profile silhouettes the bird/artist between the sea and the viewer, firmly establishing the artist’s role as go-between yet also reinforcing his isolation and separation.

MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions76 x 61 cm Framed: 101 x 85 cm
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Donation, Maire and Maurice Foley, 2000
Item NumberIMMA.1452 FD
Not on view
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Image Caption
John Bellany, Self Portrait, Oil on canvas, 76 x 61 cm Framed: 101 x 85 cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Donation, Maire and Maurice Foley, 2000

For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: info@imma.ie.

About the Artist

John Bellany 1942–2013

Scottish painter John Bellany studied at Edinburgh College of Art and at the Royal College of Art in London. He grew up in the seaside town of Port Seton, and the sea, the special light effects of a seaside environment, together with the experience of life in a small provincial community, have consistently affected his work. Bellany was awarded a CBE in 1994, and in 2012 a major exhibition to mark his 70th birthday took place at the Royal Scottish Academy. — View Artist »